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Doc Rivers on D&C

12.09.09 at 11:02 am ET

Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly call-in. The guys asked Doc about minutes, rebounding and Kevin Garnett’s hot streak. They also gave the coach the chance to sound off on his favorite ex-ref, Tim Donaghy.

Things are going well, do you worry about pushing them too hard in December and the possibility that they will be spent in April and May?

No, I don’t worry about that. I hear all that talk and I really think it’s silly sometimes. Let’s say you win 25 games in a row and someone says that’s bad for you, I’ve never got that. Obviously if you play your guys 40 minutes a night or something like that, then that’s different. But if you’re playing your guys their normal minutes and they’re winning games, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do. You want to improve. Any team that doesn’t improve during the year is not going to do much in the playoffs. That’s what the regular season is for.

Is it safe to say that with a veteran team, that margin to improve is less than a young team?

Our improvement is not going to come by individual basketball skill. Kevin, Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], Rasheed [Wallace] they’re not going to be different players by the end of the year, so our improvement is all about the team part of it.
All about the continuity, all about reading each other on offense and defense and that’s what we’re doing.

I love our pace right now with the practices and the game minutes. If we can continue on this pace that would be great. With injuries that come up during the regular season you know that’s not going to be possible. But if we could stay on this pace, we practice at the right time, we’re pacing ourselves in games as far as minutes, but you’ve been around long enough to know with injuries and things like that, that’s when you are pressed.

Does the division race mean anything?

I’m going to answer your question by saying I don’t know how many we’ve won. There’s your answer now that I think about it.

You may have locked it up last night.

For us it’s more about home court. If you can get home court that’s huge and that’s what we want to get. That’s what we’re looking at. You look at playoff positioning and home court advantage far more than you look at division.

You’re 13 game over .500, Milwaukee came in one game under .500. We’ve talked about how you always get other team’s best effort. Do you ever get another team’s worst effort?

It’s rare but you do. We had one early in the year. I don’t think you ever get a bad effort. That’s something I’ve always said as a player and a coach. I don’t think you ever get bad efforts. I think you get bad games. I think teams come out with a good effort and then things don’t work out. You remember the game early in the year with Charlotte, they came out and played hard. They just couldn’t make a shot and literally nothing went right for them and that was the perfect storm for us. It happens. I would prefer that to happen more but we don’t get that a lot.

Why are you struggling with rebounding?

It becomes a physicality [issue]. You start relying on just going to get the ball instead of making contact. You get into those habits. That’s what happened. It’s amazing. We’ve worked on it. We’ve talked about it and we’ve proven we can do it in stretches. We did it last night in the last five or six minutes of the game. I’ve mentioned words like team improvement, the little things. That’s part of what we talk about and those are the little things that we do have to improve on, and it’s a problem right now.


In the playoffs rebounding is going to be key. I don’t think you can be a bad rebounding team and win a championship. I think you have to at least be a good one.

You can improve your rebounding numbers if you miss more shots.

We’re shooting the ball so well right now and the ball movement is so good, that we’re not going to get a lot of offensive rebounds if we continue to play on that pace. Those numbers will be down. I’m not concerned about that. I’m more concerned about our defensive rebounding. We won a game on the road against San Antonio where we have up 20 offensive rebounds. That’s not going to cut it.

Who gets the blame for it?

It’s a collective effort. Our bigs have to go and make contact on their bigs, especially athletic bigs. The new theme in our league in rebounding is when bigs can’t get it they just jump and tip it up in the air and then try to make it an athletic contest. They know that they can’t get it but someone else will. That’s one thing that we have to do better. The other thing, and it’s the same thing with defending the 3, is dribble penetration. It doesn’t sound like a rebounding stat, but it’s huge. If a guard beats our guard off the dribble and we go and help, then that frees his big on the glass. That’s the second crime that we have to stop, because that’s happening way too much as well.

Hot hot is KG?

He’s on fire. It’s funny what a little gym work will do every once in a while. Early in the year, besides the fact that he was coming back from injury and it takes time to get his rhythm, he was about two steps behind his normal spot. Everybody has spots on the floor and you can clearly see it. Now he’s made it a point of getting to his spot for his shots. In New York, we were talking about it before the game and at halftime we brought it back up. You’re further out. The back of your heel is on the 3. Your toes are usually on the elbow. That’s a huge difference. He’s done a great job with that.

Is Kevin really, truly angry on the floor?

It’s more of his look. He’s not really angry, he’s intense. He’s a tough guy to describe because off the court he’s one of the more wonderful people you could ever be around. But on the court he’s into a zone, I’ve got to tell you I don’t think as a player I ever got to. It’s an amazing state that he gets himself into. You’ve probably seen him before games he doesn’t talk. He has more game preparation than any athlete I’ve ever been around, and to me, that’s what allows him to play at the level that he plays at.

He hits the ground running. Five seconds into the game he’s screaming at [Andrew] Bogut before he even gets down the floor.

It’s funny, I hear when we go in different cities about Kevin’s trash talking. I guarantee you he doesn’t know what he’s saying half the time and they don’t either.

Is it ever funny?

Who knows. I don’t listen to it. I hear it, but I have no idea what he’s saying. He is intense. He has this theory that the world is against him and his team and he really believes that on the floor. I love that. I think it’s good for him. I think it’s healthy for him.

Did you go to dinner with Tim Donaghy after the game?

I was going to give him a call, but I thought, no, I’ll just leave him alone.

We know you dislike him. You’ve had your problems with him in the past. But he is speaking out about the problems he’s had with you. When he was reffing, did you ever have any idea that he was dirty?

No, I didn’t. I told you before I had no idea, I just thought he was an awful ref. I really did. I don’t say that often. The only official that I requested to have a meeting with, where I thought it was personal, and they actually got to the point where they obliged [that meeting] and he told me it wasn’t personal. Then I found out all this stuff and I realized it was personal to the league. I didn’t realize that’s [why he was a bad ref].

It’s a shame though, really. I get on refs as much as Pop [Gregg Popovich] and other guys do, but they do work their butts off. I know they do. I see them working before games when you walk by their locker room you can see them with their computers on working their butt off. There’s a lot of guys — Danny Crawford is from Chicago — who grew up wanting to be officials and now what they do is coming into question, and I think that’s unfair.

We keep giving this guy who obviously has character problems, and honesty problems, a forum. It does bother me. It bothers me also, I keep hearing him say it’s entertainment and that really [ticked] me off. You don’t say that. I’m thinking I have a torn knee, a torn meniscus, a broken thumb, a broken nose, a broken wrist and to me that was not entertainment. That was competition. When I hear that from a guy like him it really bothers me, because not only with the officials, it’s the whole league that he’s questioning and I don’t like it.

Do you believe him a little bit when he says certain refs had likes and dislikes?

I think it’s a human game and there’s a human element to basketball and baseball and football. It’s no different than any profession. You like some guys, you dislike some guys. I don’t think that dictates how you call the game. I like the human element part of the game. That’s part of it that will always be in question.

You may not like him, but he confirmed all of Rasheed’s suspicions that they were out to get him.

With Rasheed, I love him, but he’s made his bed and you know what I mean by that. When you get on anyone enough, then you’ve made your own bed and you’ve got to lie in it. That’s what he has to live with. He’s an emotional player. It’s funny how close he and Kevin are in their belief once the game starts. And then when you get them off the floor the difference is Kevin rears back. Rasheed’s not going to do that.

[Shifting gears] can you think of anything you ever bought where you had buyer’s remorse?

My rookie year I got a Volkswagen Rabbit. It was a convertible and stick shift that I’ve never driven before. The moment I was going up the exit rank with Dominique Wilkins, Kevin Willis and myself in a Volkswagen Rabbit. I couldn’t get it up the hill because I didn’t know how to drive a stick, I’m thinking this is an awful purchase.

That must have looked like a clown car with you guys getting out of it.

Hilarious. You know what’s funny in the playoffs that year, playing the Celtics, I remember Danny [Ainge] and Kevin McHale, I pulled up before practice and they’re yelling at me. They’re screaming at me, ‘Oh my gosh the Hawks are awful. Their players are driving Volkswagens.’

Rookies nowadays buy Bentleys.

Absolutely. I was trying to conserve money and it was not well spent.

What do you expect from Glen Davis and when might he return?

I’m hoping that Christmas trip when we go on the west coast, he’ll return or right after that. We’ll see then. I don’t know. He’s going to be great eventually. He’s going to be what he is. How long it takes I don’t know. It’s going to take some time. He’s missed so many games and so many practices, I would think it would take him a good month to six weeks of playing before he gets back to being the Baby we know.

He’s kept his weight in place?

He’s about three or four pounds under right now. That tells me he’s working. He’s in the gym every day. He’s doing all the things he should do and I’m very proud of him right now.

Will we see an effective left-handed hook from Baby?

I hope not. He’s working on it. I see him every day shooting left handed jump shots, using the glass, it can’t hurt. I always tell guys, if you injure one hand that means the other hand works out.

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